Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria to include a Fine Collection of Napoleonic Medals (25 March 2015)

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Date of Auction: 25th March 2015

Sold for £7,000

Estimate: £8,000 - £12,000

Historically Important Despatch Case of Napoleon Bonaparte Captured in 1812, this case was reputedly captured by Captain Crowder of the 7th Royal Fusiliers whilst in transit from Napoleon in Russia to Martial Soult in Spain. Of polished, thick brown leather with a brass plate attached to the flap engraved ‘Depeches De Sa Majeste Napoleon Empereur Et Roi’. The flap is secured by four leather straps. When opened it reveals a stitched identification number ‘37 D’ and an inner flap with seven large iron loops to accommodate a substantial hand-forged iron chain to secure the pocket, thereby denying access to the despatches within. The reverse of the case with a 11 cms cut possibly from a sword slash or from a desperate attempt by the carrier to gain access to the despatches before capture. The leather retains its original rich brown colour and remains in supple condition, 72cm x 28cm when closed, very good condition for age £8000-12000


Provenance: By descent through the family and accompanied by an old hand-written note ‘This Despatch Bag was, during its transit from Napoleon at Moscow to Martial Soult in Spain in 1812, captured by Major Crowder (then Captain afterwards Col. K.H. 7th Fusiliers). The knowledge thus attained is supposed to have had much influence on the Peninsular War’.

John Crowder was commissioned Lieutenant on 16 June 1803, into the 7th Royal Fusiliers, from the West Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry; Captain 5 November 1806, and by 1813 is Senior Captain having gained his Majority in the Army 17 August 1812 and regimentally 9 September 1813. He was placed on half pay, 25 May 1815, and in 1816 transferred to the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He became Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel in May 1825, and Brevet Colonel in June 1838, but died shortly afterwards at Cheltenham on 27 August the same year, aged 57

Crowder served in the Peninsula with 2/7th Foot, April 1809 to July 1810; 1/7th Foot, August 1810 to December 1811, and May 1812 to January 1814. He was present at Douro, Talavera, Busaco, Pombal, Condeixa, Olivencia, first siege of Badajoz, Albuhera (wounded), Aldea da Ponte, Castrejon, Salamanca (severely wounded, Mentioned in Despatches for gallantry while commanding a detachment of two companies of the 7th Foot in support of the Guards in the village of Arapiles and awarded a Brevet Majority), Vittoria, Pyrenees (wounded Sauroren, 27 July 1813), and Nivelle. He also served at Copenhagen in 1807, and was later made a K.H.

Nicolas Soult, Duc de Dalmatie was made a Marshal by Napoleon in 1804 and endeared himself to the Emperor for taking the Pratzen Heights at the Battle of Austerlitz. A good soldier and tactician, he was despatched to Spain in 1808 and chased Sir John Moore to Corunna. He was in command of the French at Albuhera and in the closing stages of the Peninsula campaign proved extremely elusive and delayed British victory for nearly a year. During the “100 days” he became Napoleon’s Chief of Staff but did not live up to expectations. After the war, he became Minister of War and was France’s representative at the Coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837 where he was grabbed by the arm and heard the words “I have you at last!”; he spun round to see none other than his old adversary, the Duke of Wellington.